Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Kevin D. Williamson: "Enforce Immigration Law or Change It"

That's what I've been saying for years.
Also: preferably do the former.
Other stuff:
   The United States maintains a policy of separating children from their parents in the case of illegal border crossings in the same sense that the United States has a policy of separating parents from their children when those parents are sent to prison for murder or tax evasion or are jailed for unpaid speeding tickets — or, for a more exact parallel, when we hold them in custody prior to trial.
   For all the angst and wailing about the Trump administration’s so-called zero-tolerance policy at the southern border, there has been almost no acknowledgment of the basic facts of the case: 1) Unlike the mere act of being illegally present in the United States, which is a civil offense, crossing the border illegally is a criminal offense; 2) the president and his administration are sworn to see to the faithful execution of the laws of the United States; 3) the responsibility of the U.S. government is to the people of the United States at whose sufferance it governs, not to the world at large, in immigration law as in other matters; 4) those poor children are indeed put in a terrible situation — by their parents, directly, and indirectly by their home governments.

   Dianne Feinstein and 42 of her fellow Senate Democrats are putting forward a bill that would forbid such family separations, but there are at the moment zero backers of any bill doing what the Trump administration’s critics are in effect demanding without having the gonadal capacity to say so: decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings. That’s what the slogan “No human being is illegal” means.

   And it’s even more complicated when those in custody claim to be refugees seeking political asylum, which almost none of them are. The overwhelming majority are economic immigrants who would never think of following the legal procedure for seeking asylum — presenting themselves at a U.S. port of entry or abroad — if they hadn’t been caught trying to sneak across the border. Asylum claims not made through the existing process should be resolved quickly — ideally in less than 48 hours — and rejected in all but the most extraordinary of circumstances, which would allow speedy family reunification prior to deportation.

   This is a case of what John Bolton famously called “provocative weakness.” For decades, the lax to unbelievably negligent enforcement of U.S. immigration law — combined with the Kafkaesque horror show that is the legal, aboveboard U.S. immigration system — created a powerful lure for very poor people with a desire to work and not much to lose to just pack up such worldly goods as they could carry and skip across the Rio Grande to pick tomatoes or clean motel rooms or hang drywall, all of which beat foundering in greater poverty and hopelessness in Mexico.

   Or, we could do what the Obama administration did, and what the critics of the Trump administration want it to do, which is to stop enforcing the law and allow some illegal immigrants to instrumentalize their children, using them as get-out-of-jail-free cards. But if we do that, we should prepare for what will come next. If you open the floodgates, you get a flood.
   The people of the United States, like the people of any polity, have the sovereign right to determine for themselves who joins that polity and on what terms. The government of the United States — which is only their instrument — has a duty to carry out those policies, executing the laws passed by the people’s duly elected representatives. If the members of Congress don’t like the law, it is entirely within their power to change it and face the consequences at the next election rather than take the current cowardly path and act as though this is purely a matter of innovation on the part of the Trump administration.
   And while there is much we could and should do to alleviate the terrible economic and political conditions that often prevail south of our border (imagine how much better off the United States would be if our immediate neighbor to the south were as rich as Germany or Norway), the American government is there to look after the interests of Americans. And Americans apparently have their own ideas about what their interests are when it comes to illegal immigration, in spite of the judgment of the New York Times and Senator Feinstein.


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